Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where Haven't I Been

I get this question a lot and now I have an answer. Lots of places!

Of the 50 U.S. states, I have been in all but four - North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Vermont but not all of them in the RV. BUT ... there are 203 recognized countries in the world and I have only been to 25 of them. So I don't think I'm going to run out of places to go any time soon.

What brought this about was Lorraine, whose husband puts together our European Riverboat Cruises, said they have been inducted into the 100-Country Club. They have traveled a lot and she told me to look on line for the list of countries. So I did. So now you know (and me too!).

Ted has been to a few more countries. Off the top of my head I can think of Singapore, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica because of work travel. I believe he has been in all the states but North Dakota and Nebraska. He traveled extensively in Canada and was able to cross the border into NH and VT on occasion. I may catch up to him here in the U.S. but probably not outside of it since we travel together all the time now.

It was fun and interesting researching this. I'm ready for that queston next time I get it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Great Camping Weekend

We arrived at Stephen F. Austin State Park in Sealy, TX around noon on Thursday. We parked in front of Jay and about 15 minutes later, Tommy pulled in and parked behind him. The sites here are terrific – large, with lots of space between. Trees are not located where they interfere with slides and awnings.

We spent the afternoon visiting and I baked some short cakes for dessert. Susan arrived from work and we shared a dinner of delicious vegetable soup made by Stella followed by my shortcakes covered with strawberries, blueberries and cool whip.

Our temps have been nice and it was 79 on Friday. Ted and I took a walk around the park and 17 deer ran across the road right in front of us. Tommy’s sister and brother-in-law from Chappell Hill came to visit so he cooked hot dogs with James Coney Island chili plus some burgers for everyone’s lunch.

A fellow came to Jay’s trailer because he has a big Park Host sign out front. He wanted to know if anyone knew about 5th wheels. He just picked up a new one at Camping World but could not get unhitched. Ted and Jay followed him to his site, had him put his front legs back up, chock the wheels, set the brake on the trailer, then put the truck in reverse and bump back on the hitch. Ted pulled on the release bar and voila, he was unhitched. It was apparent he wasn’t too well versed in his new rig so they spent some time with him. Then he discovered he had locked his keys in his truck! I told his wife she would laugh about all of this … a few years from now.

We all drove into Sealy to eat dinner at Tony’s Restaurant. We had a good meal and the portions were way too much. I brought home enough for my lunch on Saturday. It was too windy for a campfire so we sat outside Tommy’s motorhome until bedtime.

We had our coffee over at Jay’s Saturday morning and we had another “help” visit. This fellow needed jumper cables but Jay didn’t have any but Ted did. So off Ted went again to lend a hand. Rvers are always willing to help any way they can.

Susan’s sister and niece came for a visit and I was inside their motorhome for some time. Tommy, who is a professional photographer, came to our RV to take pictures with his fisheye camera.

We haven’t decided what we are going to do yet but it will be good to have the photos if we decide to sell. We figure we have five options: 1) do nothing; 2) add a second A/C, new sink and new recliners to our rig; 3) order a new 2010 Hitchhiker 5th wheel, 4) find a motorhome that interests us and buy that; or, 5) wait until after our summer trip to decide what we want to do and then do it. Time will tell.

Jim and LeAnne came in the afternoon to have dinner with us all. I had a box of Omaha steaks and Ted grilled them for us. Susan, Stella and I all pooled our resources and we put together another nice meal. We sat around the picnic table and laughed at all the stories. Then Jim and LeAnne came inside for a little visiting before heading back to Brenham.

We were up early Sunday and were headed into Sealy for church. Our “friend” stopped us on the way out to discuss hitching up with Ted. So Ted got out of the truck and demonstrated on our hitch. (When we came back later we saw him pulling out of the park so I guess he had no more problems.) We saw 11 deer on the way out.

After chuch we stopped for fuel at Wal-Mart and called back to the campground to see if anyone needed anything. They didn’t but told us they would meet us at Tony’s for breakfast. We arrived first and played musical tables until we had the one that suited us best. We had just settled in when the other four arrived. I can’t believe the amount of food this place gives you! For $5 you get 3 eggs, a meat, grits or hash browns, toast or biscuit (and they are 5 inch squares). I gave some of mine to Ted.

When we got back to the campground, Ted washed our truck, Jay & Stella did “restroom duty” and Tommy & Susan hooked up their Jeep to the motorhome and took off. They will be at Rayford all of February and want to get together. Ted has trips to Beaumont and Denver to get in, we plan to go to the valley for 7-10 days and then leave for Michigan 2/20. I’ll do my best to work it out because they are so much fun to be with.

Jay and Ted watched the Colts win over the Jets and Stella and I sat outside in the sunshine. For dinner Stella baked a pork loin while I baked potatoes and made fried apples. We had salad left from last night as well as some leftover cake. I baked a few cookies to go with it. It was getting chilly so we ate inside our RV and then they stayed to watch the Saints win over the Vikings. Now we have Terry’s Colts playing Bloss’ Saints in the Super Bowl. Who to root for????? If our plans work out we’ll be in the Rio Grande Valley for the Super Bowl so we’ll just enjoy the game. I’m sure no matter which park we end up in, there will be a Super Bowl Party.

I slept until 8:45 Monday morning. Something unheard of. I guess it was the walks and fresh air. I cleaned inside while Ted did his outside duties and hooked up. Jay and Stella were still at a meeting so we took a walk until they came back. We didn't want to leave without saying goodbye.

They have a few things to work out for timing and place in the valley. Once they know their schedule and spot, we'll work ours out around it. We had such a great time last year that I'm really looking forward to going with them again this year.

Unfortunately I have to attend a funeral today. Rosalie was diagnosed with cancer last August while we were still out west. It certainly didn't take long to claim her. Rest in peace, Rosalie, you were a great lady and friend to many.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's Warming Up!

We're supposed to be in the 70s this week and it did reach 78 today. I hope it stays around because we are going camping at Stephen F. Austin State Park with Jay and Stella who are workamping there. Susan and Tommy are coming out also. We're staying four nights but they may stay only two nights since they aren't retired. We leave Thursday and it will only take about an hour and a half to get there. Jay said he will save the site next to them first thing Thursday morning. We have a reservation paid for so I hope he can do that.

Last Friday we went to Wind Down and none of our close friends were there but I had a great time talking to people I don't normally see and some new people. It's good to move out of your "comfort zone" at times socially. Since we don't have business trips, etc. to do anymore, we aren't made to reach out and make new acquaintances as often. We had a nice time and I'm glad we went.

We went to church Saturday afternoon so I could spend Sunday getting ready for my bunco group due here on Monday. I had kept out a lot of the things I used for Canasta last week so it wouldn't take as much time. At least four of the ladies were coming back here for the second Monday in a row. I hope they didn't feel as if they had a bit part in Groundhog Day where the same day kept repeating!

We met Terry, Carol and Jody at Salt Grass Steakhouse Sunday evening to celebrate both the ladies' birthdays. I had a huge chocolate cake that the manager said was OK to bring in and gifts for each of them. Dave had to make a quick trip to Florida and was just flying back and could not join us. It was a very pleasant evening but they made me bring the rest of the cake back since I was having bunco.

When bunco was over on Monday I still had a huge part of the cake left so I took it to my neighbor for her grandchildren. I took the bag of candy too! They'll enjoy it and I won't waste the cake or be tempted by the candy.

I had my mammogram today and the gal said she didn't see anything glaring at her but of course only a radiologist comparing this year's with previous year's would know what it actually shows. So far, so good. Then I got my hair cut and highlighted instead of just colored. A new look to go with my "no glasses" scene.

Tomorrow is packing the camper day followed by Happy Hour at the country club. If Ted doesn't go to the gun club to shoot, he'll meet me there and we'll have dinner with Jeff and Connie.

Congratulatons to Scott Brown, the new senator from Massachusetts.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Giving Thanks

I have much to give thanks for this week. The most important being Ted's endoscopy results of yesterday. Last January Dr. E. told us his ablative therapy had been totally effective and Ted's esophagus was clean as a whistle. Ted was released back to Dr. W. to have a surveillance endoscopy in one year to make sure it stayed that way.

Ted had the procedure done yesterday and Dr. W., who in the beginning was not wild about the treatment path we chose, said it was a normal endoscopy. He changed his medicine to one pill a day and said to come back in a year. It was a roller coaster ride the past 2.5 years but we couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. Don't ever be afraid of second opinions, doing some of your own research, and disagreeing with a doctor. You need to be your own health advocate and make informed decisions along with the medical personnel. Praise God for answering my prayers.

I'm also thankful for the return of warm weather. Many plants look like cooked spinach but most will come back. I've learned many people lost their sprinkler valves but they will be fixed long before summer necessitates turning on the system. I put my flannel nightgown away (my "foul weather gear" as Ted calls it) and am enjoying the sunshine and 60 degree weather.

We are getting rain this weekend which will keep the temps down but we're not bundled up like Nanook of the North anymore.

Have a great weekend. We plan to.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frozen Pipes All Over The Place

Thankfully our pipes have made it through OK but we know of at least four in the neighborhood whose sprinkler system valves blew off. One was in the area I'm responsible for on the Neighborhood Watch. They were home, so it was easy for me to notify them. They didn't even know about the flood outside! The other was down the street but that captain didn't have info so they called me. I checked the tax records, then the white pages, and got a phone number for them. The other two were neighbors who were home and aware of the situation.

My walking friend Gerre was in NYC and came home to a leak in the pool, broken sprinkler pipes and a broken pipe at their lake house on Lake Conroe. Welcome back! Yeah, right.

They are predicting above freezing (barely) at night with temps creeping back into the 50s and 60s during the day. But that will also bring rain. I'd get out of here if there was somewhere to go. I think AZ and CA are the only two places we could pull the RV to and get warm. Leo and Shirley came back from the Rio Grande Valley when it hit 28. She said she'd rather be cooped up at home than in her "tin can" as she calls their Class C motorhome. We'll just have to "cowboy up" and wait it out.

We stayed home all weekend and Ted made chili one night and tortellini soup the next. Good weather for soup. Other than church and runs to the grocery store and Sam's, I don't think we went out at all.

I had my Canasta group in yesterday and all went well. We always have a good time. I actually came in second and turned my $1 into $5. They did pretty well eating the food I had. I have bunco next Monday so the nuts and candy I put on the playing tables will be put back out. Ted will eat any leftover nuts but the candy will have to go to the food bank. I have no will power.

Our summer trip is starting to shape up. I think we'll be at Rayford for Memorial Day and leave on Tuesday to arrive in Cincinnati on Thursday. Friday is Jesse and Joe's wedding. We'll stay two weeks and then head to Michigan for Morgan and Ally's dance recital. We may stay there through July 4 and then head to Alpena where Howard and Linda will be work camping. Then we're heading across the Upper Peninsula into Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and then south back to Texas to arrive by mid-August. We will leave 8/21 for Cancun. It will be a shorter summer than usual. The Texas Boomers are having a big Labor Day 10th anniversary rally in Boerne, TX and the Hitchhiker rally is in October in Montgomery, TX so we'll just stay around for those things.

I'm thinking spring and called the deck company to come out and renovate our deck. It is 7 years old now and needs some TLC. I'm also having a floor guy in to look at refinishing our wood floors, changing out the bedroom carpet and perhaps putting a wood floor in the office. We have never stayed long enough in homes to have to deal with painting, removing wallpaper, re-carpeting, etc. so this is a new adventure for us.

Stay warm wherever you are. If you need to get out in snow and ice, walk carefully and for good measure, carry a big stick.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Now It's Even Colder!!!!!

It is 24 this morning. Yesterday it never got above freezing and our normal would be in the 60s. Enough already. We went out to look at our sprinkler pipe and there was an icicle on it. There must be a little leak there. It is wrapped in foam but we put a towel all around it. You can't find pipe insulation anywhere down here right now. The fountain in the courtyard has created a hanging icicle. They said to let it run so we are. We put drink cozies on the hose bibs over the insulation that is on them. Again, no bib covers available right now.

I kept my dermatology appointment and we're almost done with all the freezing. She hit all the spots below my chin. She always comments on how much this virus likes me. Let's hope they all stay gone now.

We all laughed at Farkle because Jacque had to deal with coats. That's something we just don't do down here. My coat closet has my vacuum cleaner and excess paper towels in it. We opted to just toss them across the sofa. Some of the girls are still learning and the scoring is different from what I play on line, so we opted not to play for money ... and then I won! Wouldn't you know it? Next month I won't come close.

Jacque offered me a cup of hot chocolate when I arrived which sounded great since it was so cold. It was awesome. I asked how she made it because it was simmering in a pot on the stove. It was Nestle's, skim milk and the secret ingredient ... Godiva Chocolate liquore (sp?). Oh my what a difference that makes. With whipped cream on top and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, it sure took away the chill ... and landed promptly on my hips!

My GYN appointment went good. The doctor told me "cool beans, see you next year." Never heard that term before but I'll take it. I've scheduled my mammogram for later this month and if that and the Pap are OK, I'm good for a year! Yippee! We've scheduled Ted's endoscopy for next week so we're closing in on all these appointments and tests.

We have no plans this weekend other than to try to stay warm. I have some running to do because I have Canasta here on Monday. I'll clean, get the food ready and the tables up on Sunday so it's ready for the 15 ladies that are coming. I don't think Ted will want to go shooting as cold as it is.

I hope wherever you are that you are warm and dry. Stay that way.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Normalcy Returns Except for the Weather

I'm glad we came home a day earlier than planned. It gave me two days to get caught up with nothing causing me to leave the house. We had our normal "go round" with the post office. After standing in line 45 minutes Ted was told they had no mail for us. I checked our box up the street and sure enough two weeks worth of mail was shoved in there. Also in there was the sheet of paper telling the post office to hold our mail that is generated for them when you make your request on line. Every time we go away we have a problem. I'm on a personal mission to get our mail carrier removed. He's a minority and a Federal employee. Hell will probably freeze over first. But then I'm pretty sure Hell, Michigan might be frozen over right now. I'll have to find another way to express my frustration.

Our early return threw a monkey wrench into Carol's plans to come and make up all four of our beds on Monday. The clean bedclothes were sitting on the beds so I just made them up. Turns out she pulled a muscle and really needed Terry to come help her so it all turned out for the best. I'm glad the house was used while we were gone. The older kids loved it here because of the wi-fi.

I put away the few Christmas decorations I had out, found homes for our new gifts, emptied suitcases, did laundry, paid bills and got everything in order. The oranges, grapefruit and lemons are in the garage right now because it is so cold they don't need to be refrigerated.

After Breakfast Club yesterday I saw my eye doctor and he said I'm right on target and to come back in six months. My brain is still adjusting to using one eye for distance and one for close up but he said my vision is excellent. Everyone comments on seeing me with no glasses. I had worn them since I was a freshman in high school. I wore contacts off and on but hated the time it took to care for them properly and put them in and take them out. Glasses were just much easier to grab when you have three kids, a big house and a full time job. Happy hour was last night at the country club and because Ted was at the Houston Gun Club I went and had a couple glasses of wine with the girls.

Ted saw Dr. Winkelstein to schedule his first annual surveillance endoscopy. Everything done to him at Baylor and Methodist was sent to Dr. W. and he said that looking at the last pictures he would say "this guy has no issues." We hope and pray when he goes in next Thursday to look he feels the same way.

Today I have a dermatology appointment and then a new group playing Farkle is meeting at Jacque's across the highway. I try not to get committed to monthly groups but Farkle and Mexican Train can play without a set number so I'm giving them both a try. I still do my monthly bunco that I started back in 10/01 but that's my only commitment. In everything else we are subs or it is a come if you can/want sort of thing.

It was 30 here earlier in the week and they are predicting 19 over the next day or so. The wind is howling between the houses. I could hear something banging and it was the door on the breaker box that had come open. I turned off the sprinklers so they don't come on. We shouldn't complain with what the rest of the nation is going through but this is the coldest in 14 years and we certainly aren't used to it.

Stay warm.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Family, Friends, Food, Fun (and Driving)

First things first. Ted is having a ball playing with his Garmin and rejoices when it is wrong. It provides a lot of info but it does weird things like takes you some place one way and then wants to take you back a different way. He said he WILL NOT use it when he drives the trailer but he's been programming it all week.

Second, I didn't post the picture of us with the kids at Epcot in our matching shirts. So here it is.

The kids wanted a no commitment day on Sunday other than Mass at 6 pm. So we took our time going over. Pat set up the router, Kelly was doing laundry and I cooked omelets for Cassie and Ally. Once all the girls were dressed we went to the mall while Pat and Ted watched football. We met them at church and afterwards came home to polish off the Christmas dinner leftovers.

I went over to do laundry on Monday before my noon hair cut. Kelly's family was leaving for Tampa where they planned to visit the Salvadore Dali museum, have dinner with Pat's friend Steve, visit Pat's aunt and uncle in St. James City on Tuesday and meet up with us for dinner Tuesday night. After two nights in a motel, they were heading back to Orlando for their flight home.

Kristin was stripping beds so I put her things in with mine to make full loads. After my hair cut we went back to La Mesa RV to ask a few more questions about the Allegro. We told them we would call them on Tuesday. We had not talked to our insurance man nor our storage place. There were some logistics to work out in addition to the financial end of such a transaction.

From there we went to Tom and Eileen's where we picked lemons, grapefruit and oranges from their trees. We had dinner together and spent the whole evening with them.

We headed to Punta Gorda on Tuesday and received a call from the salesman at La Mesa. He said he had someone interested in the coach and to call him back. When we called he said he had just left us a message saying it was sold. Well OK then we can just quit working on a decision.

We found my Dad and Edna having reasonably good days and they were both able to go to dinner that evening. My sister Laurie and her husband Spence, as well as Kelly's family, met at a restaurant in the mall. Aunt Laurie had silver bangle bracelets for the girls and they were thrilled and put them on right away.

Laurie was off on Wednesday so we went to her house to visit and that evening Spence cooked some great steaks and we had another family dinner. Our time with all of them was too short but we had lots of ground to cover.

Both Edna and Dad had doctor's appointments Thursday morning so we left by 9:30. Our first stop was in the west side of Punta Gorda at Faith and Herman's who were our neighbors in Troy. We had visited them in Cologne, Germany on one of our trips but had not seen them since. Faith said Herman was due back to see us but we learned later he got caught up in some business and we missed him by 5 minutes when we left. Faith looked fantastic and they have a beautiful home on a gorgeous canal with a boat on a lift in the backyard. It was great catching up on their lives since GM and she wanted to know all about the kids and grandkids. We promised to let them know when we are in that area again.

From there we drove to Naples and impressed Les and Pat by finding their condo on our own (with Pat's directions, mapquest and the Garmin). Our plans were to go to the beach to watch the fireworks with Pat's brother's family - 8 of us in all. Pat got the wine, beer, soft drinks, cheese & crackers, shrimp and chicken fingers ready to go. Les had the four beach chairs all ready and off we went.

Don had found a terrific spot right next to a beach access walk way just one block from the pier where the fireworks would go off.

It gave us a great vantage point. Once settled, we had a good bit of time to catch up since our October trip we took together and witness a beautiful sunset.

The fireworks were terrific and because we were right by the walkway, we had no trouble getting off the beach and to the car. We all met up at Chili's for dinner afterwards and then the four of us went back to the condo. We watched the ball drop in Times Square and were all in bed by 12:05 a.m. Everything was going great until Ted got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and then walked into Pat and Les' bedroom instead of ours. We have nicknamed him the Midnight Masher! Pat had been awakened the night before "hearing voices" which turned out to be the radio on as low as it could go. Ted told her he was just making sure she wasn't hearing voices anymore. We laughed a lot about that incident.

We snuck out early the next morning for Mass without disturbing our hosts. They were up and dressed when we got back so we took a tour of Naples. It has been 15 years since we were there last. It certainly has grown but remains a very beautiful city. We stopped for breakfast at Blueberry's and all agreed this new restaurant should make it just fine with their extensive menu and good service.

We packed up and left, heading to The Villages to meet up with Phil and Mary. Phil is the General Manager of the Daily Sun as well as the TV and radio stations in The Villages. We called from Wildwood and met them at Bob Evans for a couple cups of coffee and some catching up. We drove on and stopped in Gainesville for the night.

Saturday morning we had breakfast with some RVing/Facebook/Farmville friends in person. We had planned to spend the night at the Village Lodge in Dowling Park but Dan was in the hospital over Christmas and it was too difficult to plan. He was up to coming to Denny's however. I hope they don't think I always wear make-up and jewelry while traveling but I knew we were going to church in Slidell before stopping anywhere so I was prepared. Last summer I don't think I wore make-up once. I figured I didn't know anyone, would never see them again, so why worry?

They are fulltimers/workampers with a unique situation. Dowling Park is a retirement village where they owned a house which they sold recently. However, there is a campground so they can go "home" to friends, doctors, familiar surroundings whenever the need or desire arises. I think that's a great arrangement. They have a stint at Unicoi State Park in Georgia (we've been there) before heading to an assignment in Alaska. Travel safely folks and we'll see ya down the road.

We were traveling west by this point and our next stop was St. Margaret Mary church in Slidell. Bloss, our sister-in-law, was expecting us about 6 and we were right on time. We took her to a steak house for dinner and then came back to spend the evening with her. She said it is a real treat to go out for dinner. It's hard to believe Tim will be gone two years next month.

After a good night's sleep and coffee in the morning, we headed in earnest for Texas. We arrived home safe and sound around 3 in the afternoon. Our house survived the other Rogers clan staying here and other than the clean bedclothes sitting in the bedrooms and the thank you notes on the counter, I would never have known anyone was here.

We have a busy few weeks of doctor appointments. If we can get through all of them with no follow-up, more tests or something wrong (God forbid), we may head down to the Rio Grande valley for a couple weeks the first part of February. We leave for Michigan the week of 2/22. I tell you, this retirement stuff is so busy!!!!